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Make oatmeal a healthy part of your diet

By ELIZABETH HALL, Community Contributor • Jan 31, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Did you know that January was National Oatmeal Month? While the month is now over, you can still make plans to include oats and oatmeal in the month of February.

Oatmeal is a breakfast staple. It is typically made with different varieties of oats, which is one of the most widely eaten grains in the world. Oats are also a nutrient-dense whole grain, as the bran and germ are rarely removed during processing. So when you see the word “oats” or “oat flour” on a label, you can rest assured you are getting a whole grain. 

Oats are great for breakfast because they are high in fiber, which sustains fullness and can help with weight management and blood sugar control.

Oats come in a variety of forms at the supermarket. In the U.S., most oats are steamed and flattened, producing rolled or “old-fashioned” oats and quick-cooking oats. The more flattened and steamed the oats are, the quicker they cook and softer the texture. 

Steel-cut oats are becoming a popular alternative, especially for individuals who prefer a nuttier texture. Steel-cut oats consist of the entire oat kernel before it is flattened; therefore, they require the longest cooking time of 20 to 30 minutes. Steel-cut oats can be cut once or twice into smaller pieces to help them cook faster. The nuttier texture of steel-cut oats creates a chewier oatmeal that contrasts with the creamy, soft texture of traditional varieties.

Oats provide numerous health benefits, besides just being high in fiber. Oats can help to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which supports heart health. They contain a special starch called “beta-glucan” that helps to stimulate the immune system and reduce risk of certain types of cancers. They also contain more than 20 polyphenols with strong antioxidant properties. 

While most often enjoyed for breakfast, oats can be included at lunch and dinner as well. Instead of sweetening your oatmeal, try savory flavors such as an Oatmeal Taco Bowl or Sweet Potato Kale and Sausage Oatmeal. Check out the Meal and Recipe Center on FoodCity.com for more oatmeal-inspired recipes!

ELIZABETH HALL, MS, RDN, LDN Registered Dietitian, K-VA-T Food Stores

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